Tuesday, January 19, 2016

...to help them remember

...this past weekend was a big deal.


"The ability to do something that frightens one."


These two have courage.

Not because they can race around on this crazy contraption.

But because, both Isabella and Will did things this weekend that I am not sure I would have...

Isabella's school has been trying to put together a debate team.  This is something that she is interested in and has the aptitude for.  But...her team and only had one practice session and her coach enrolled the team (four students) in a tournament.

Isabella was mortified that she would not only have to participate in an activity that wasn't prepared for but she didn't even know what to expect.

After several conversations, and a few tears, we agreed that I would talk with her coach on the morning of the event to 'excuse her' from participating.  I *tried*.  (With my fingers crossed.).

Clearly the end of the story is predictable...she participated.

AND she placed.  Second overall.  Pretty impressive for a first attempt.

Next time she intends to win.

Now Will's boy scout troop has been preparing to go on a Polar Bear camping trip for the past few months.  They have been practicing their outdoor cooking skills and first aid activities.  This past weekend was the-real-deal.

I was a nervous wreck.  The forecast up north in the Traverse City area was bleak.  Windy, snowy, and single digits.  Brr.  

This was Will's sleeping arrangement...

Will was a trooper...

the end of the first full day outdoors
And made it home safe and sound...

After he had unpacked and taken care of all of his things and was sitting down for a few minutes he said to Mark and I, "I am pretty proud of myself."

You should be buddy.  You absolutely should be.

We are super proud of both of them for trying something really hard and out-of-their-comfort-zones...and succeeding.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

...enjoying the family advent


School is out for the year.

I am not sure if I am more excited about this or the kids.  I love the fact that we don't have to worry about bed times and wake-ups, making lunches and finishing homework, or piano lessons and wrestling meets.

And I love the holiday season.  "It's the most wonderful time...of the year."

All of the kids love the routine we have around here during the month of December.  Opening the Lego Advent calendar, opening the family advent calendar, lighting the dinner candles (AND blowing them out).  Thank goodness we have an even number of kids; this means every kid gets the same number of calendar-opens and candle-lights.

Oh yes...and searching for the Elf.  They LIVE for finding that guy.  Well, at least two kiddos still can't wait to find him.

I love that even Will gets excited about the activities we do.  Some evenings the activities have to be quick.  As-in less than fifteen minutes quick, because sometimes that is all the time we have together as a family before it is bathtime/storytime/bedtime.

He was just as excited about the painting-the-ornament activity as the girls.  You know the kind of ornaments that are bought from Michael's for $2.00 that only come with three random colors of nearly dried up paint?  Oh yes.  He fought with his baby sister about getting the lovely snowflake over the ugly elf.

On gingerbread house night there was no fighting this year.  They were all exactly the same.

A little background...Making gingerbread houses ranks right up with carving pumpkins in my book.  I can never get the house frames to actually stick together.  Frosting gets everywhere.  There is never quite enough candy included in the kit.

Decorating houses generally invokes a lot of tears.  Mine.

I cheated on the gingerbread houses this year.  When I saw that Rice Krispies had their own 'gingerbread' kits I couldn't believe my eyes.

Best.  Idea.  Ever.

They enjoyed doing them and they turned out cute...

Then, they actually wanted to eat them!

We may try the train next year!  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

...to start thinking aloud again...

...during this thoughtful season...

This is the busiest time of year.  School activities, finals, shopping, sicknesses (mostly mine this year), and advent activities.

In particular the advent activities are what my kids look forward to most.  Each day of the month, one of them opens the door of the calendar, and our family does something special.  Some days the activities are more focused, sometimes they take several hours, some days only a few minutes.

What our children don't realize is that I love making these memories more than they love the surprise  of the activities.

We went to get our Christmas tree after school on the 4th of December at the same farm we cut our tree down at last year.  Unlike last year, the weather was surprisingly nice this time.

Thus, the kids' spirits were surprisingly good!

It was a good thing we all started out so happy...

Because we walked a long way and got pretty cold looking for the perfect tree that we never found to cut down.

Then the sun began to set.  And we still didn't have a tree.

And the kids grew a little weary.

And a little grouchy.

'Till we finally settled on one of the farm's pre-cut trees (Abbey was so grouchy by this point she refused to get into the photo).

 A few days later...

We were taking communion at church and I was last in line behind my family.  Audrey and Abbey were leading the way crossing their arms, William and Isabella followed their sisters, and Mark was right in front of me.

As I stopped to take the cup, the Eucharistic Minister said to me, "You have such a beautiful family".

She caught me off guard.  And I had a catch in my throat and tears in my eyes when I thanked her.

She sure is right.

I am so thankful we are all together and healthy this holiday season.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

This little lady...

...had her first basketball game.

She was pretty excited about it.

She got the ball several times during the game.

And dribbled it right down the court.

Can you see her there in the mix?

Each time they subbed in they had to shake the girl's hand that they were going to guard.  Can you catch a glimpse of the smile on her face?

This was the last 'break-away' of the game...

And she scored.

She was so proud of herself at the end of the game.

I was too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

...a celebration of Will. He is...


We celebrated his birthday with a family favorite...peanut butter pie.

How can it be?

When this is how I remember him (in all the places he has lived)...

Lansing, MI
He still likes basketball...

Colorado Springs, CO
He's still pretty into baseball.

Pennington, NJ
He's still pretty good with his sisters...

West Point, NY
 He still loves his ice-cream...

Fort Drum, NY
He still loves getting presents.

Ann Arbor, MI
I think he thinks 11 is pretty great.

(I wonder how many more homes he'll add to his list?).

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Taking little moments.

The start of school and the routines seems to have taken us a little bit by surprise.  The kitchen renovation set us back, I have picked up an extra day a week at work, and the kids are moving in even more directions.

I think, for the most part, all the pieces are moving pretty well.

The kids have stayed fed.
We are all wearing clean clothes.
The dog is still walked several times a day.
And it's no small feat that no one has been late for any activity  (Except for me to work...I am habitually ten minutes late).

This weekend we were able to take a bit of a break and enjoy the company of our best friends.

Army came into town to play Eastern Michigan University and this was the perfect excuse for us to schedule a visit together.

It was a lovely day for a tailgate...

And for some Kan Jam...

 And for some Corn Hole...

And for a walk with a buddy...

The kids were all excited to go to the game...

well...maybe not Declan.
They were even more excited when they realized their were bouncy slides and houses!

The game was a great excuse for our family to take a time to enjoy many little moments with friends.

The Eastern Michigan Eagles put on a lovely opening ceremony complete with a bald eagle flying through the stadium at the end of the Star Spangled Banner.

Go Army!

Beat Eastern!

The icing on the cake?  

Army won.

By a lot!  I have never seen them score this many times (cumulative) over the course of the many years watching them play.

So glad we set up this opportunity to enjoy the Morrow's company...

The time was well spent.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I am terrible at tiling.

The house is quiet early this evening.

We are three weeks into school, it's only mid-week, and everyone is tired and cranky.

New routines, the stress of the kitchen renovation, and several various extra-curricular activities has all of us a bit out-of-sorts.

The good news is the kitchen is in its final details stage.

We have all the appliances.
They are all working.
The cabinets are in.
The dust has been cleaned.
And most importantly...cookies have been baked.

I would like to report that the first batches of muffins and cookies turned out perfectly-perfect.

We are only waiting on the new kitchen window and at that point the tiling and trim around the window can be finished.

Speaking of tiling...

What a disaster.

"It's easy."  I heard people say.
"It's easy."  The tiling experts at Home Depot said.
"It's easy."  I told myself after I practically became an expert by watching lots of HOW-TO videos on You-Tube!


In the back of my head I kept hearing my brother's words of advice "Every project will take twice as long and cost twice as much".   I didn't believe those words of wisdom.

Phooey.  This was going to be a morning project.  Easy.

The blogs said this would take just a few hours.  The videos showed me exactly how to do it.

AND I did everything I was told, read, or watched.

It took me exactly 21 hours.  Twenty-one hours.

That's a little.bit.longer. than a morning project.

Leveling.  Sticking.  Grouting.  Repeat.

What a mess.

I persevered.

I loved the look of the tiles.

I loved the look of the dark grout I chose.

This grout turned out to be a nemesis.

It turns out that dark grout stains.  My fingers.  My clothes.  And my new white cabinets.  Grr.

But the contrast is lovely.  

Especially with the stainless steel appliances.

I was pretty pleased when I went to bed super late that evening.

But then, by the time I woke up in the morning the tiles had slipped.  They were crooked.  They were uneven.

I wanted to rip each pretty little subway tile off of the wall.

It wasn't a pretty sight.

Mark was able to gently took peeled pry the sledgehammer out of my fingers.

And slowly and painfully the two of us repaired the worst wall in its entirety.  We replaced several other crooked tiles.  And we decided the bad ones that would hide behind the refrigerator could stay crooked.

The rest we'll fix and repair when the window comes in.

And the next time I have the bright idea to tile an area...I won't.